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One of Boston’s best-loved bartenders died, and the chef community is rallying to support his family. You can, too

Tenzin Samdo
Tenzin Samdo (Pat Ford)

One of Boston’s best-loved bartenders has passed away, and the chef community is rallying to support his family — and you can, too.

Café ArtScience partner and bar director Tenzin Samdo — known for his envelope-pushing cocktails, advocacy against plastic straws, and charismatic “Bostonmixdrink” handle on Instagram — suffered from advanced-stage liver cancer.

The Cambridge restaurant and mixology laboratory will host a “#TeamTenzin” fund-raiser on Wednesday, Jan. 30, beginning at 8 p.m. Café ArtScience chefs Ben Lacy and Ryan Boya, plus Jody Adams (Porto, Trade) and Kate Holowchick (Capo, Lincoln Tavern) will serve food. Guest bartenders such as Jared Sadoian (The Hawthorne) will prepare drinks from Samdo’s latest cocktail menu, inspired by endangered aquatic life.

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Tickets ($20) are available at Eventbrite. Samdo fans who can’t make the event but want to show support can visit a GoFundMe page. Donations will go toward educational funds for Samdo’s 8-year-old son, Mila.

A Tibetan refugee, Samdo grew up in northern India and arrived in Boston in 1996, finding work at Legal Sea Foods as an oyster shucker. He moved on to bartending and launched his own brand, Bostonmixdrink, known for infusing savory ingredients, coffee, and fresh juices into cocktails — a revolutionary concept in the early 2000s.

Samdo later worked at Adams’s Mediterranean restaurant, Trade, and at Fort Point’s Tavern Road, drawing fans for his kindness and ingenuity behind the bar. He joined Café ArtScience in 2017.

“He taught me really everything I know or value in the arts and the science of bartending. Tenzin makes great drinks, but he has a special talent and concern for aesthetics, for making drinks that are really beautiful. Tenzin mastered that art. But Tenzin is also the most generous person I’ve ever known, not only to those who sit in front of his bar, but to everybody,” says David Edwards, his partner at Café ArtScience.

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“When he began to suffer from his cancer, I met a different man. It’s been a privilege to be with him. He’s been incredibly dignified about his condition and about what’s ahead. He has taught me, and lots of people, so much about why we’re here. Tenzin behind the bar, as a friend, and in his battle with cancer has taught me about the power of the transcendence of life.”

In his final weeks, Samdo tried to update fans about his condition. In a recent e-mail on his behalf, he said, “By consuming the cocktail, you’re destroying the art, but you’re left with the memory. It’s a reminder that life isn’t permanent, but it can be beautiful.”


Kara Baskin can be reached at kara.baskin@globe.com.